One of the main components of Making Strides, is celebrating survivorship. And we define survivor as someone who has been diagnosed, and takes their very next breath. Well, I am humbled by the following woman’s story. She’s recently diagnosed (May of this year) and currently undergoing chemotherapy. On top of that, she is our largest fundraiser (raising OVER $3,000 and counting). If you have a chance to talk with her – she is so positive and upbeat. In her own words, please meet Ida.
I was diagnosed with Invasive Lobular Carcinoma Breast Cancer a few months ago on May2nd, four days before my 55th birthday and the day before my dog of 15 years died. I don’t know if the news really hit me at the time because I immediately began to worry about my family. How was I going to tell my mom, my 3 sons, my sister, niece & nephew? How were they going to deal with this? I was the one that always took care of everyone, the thought that I may have to be taken care of upset me more then the reason behind it.
Regardless, I knew worrying couldn’t change the situation so as is my nature I looked for the positive. I will live, and I looked for the humor: I may get two new breasts; which at 55 years old could only be an improvement since for some time now my breasts have only looked great when my hands were above my head anyway.
Less then 7 months prior I had a normal mammogram so it was truly a fluke that I found my breast cancer when I did. Unlike breast cancer that starts in the breast ducts, as it does with 80% of women, breast cancer that starts in the lobules, which effects 10% of women doesn’t show up on a mammogram in the early stages.
I had leaned my forearm across my breast to scratch my shoulder blade and as I did so it had hurt as I reached across my breast. Normally I wouldn’t pay attention to this because I have Fibromyalgia & this is an area that hurts, but this time it wasn’t in the usual spots. As I began to feel around one moment it felt like a lump, then it felt like a tube and then it felt like it was moving around. Of course, I pushed, pulled and prodded and wound up playing around with it so much that I made myself nauseous. So I had no choice but to stop annoying myself and finally I stopped worrying about it because my mother had always told me if it hurts it’s not cancer; where she got this bit of information neither one of us knows (probably a Jewish thing LOL). Ironically the next day I had a gyno appointment & although the doctor thought it was probably a cyst she ordered a diagnostic mammogram & ultrasound to be on the safe side. Since my doctor wasn’t alarmed I schedule the appointment for 3 weeks away when I was less busy. Typical.
When I went in for the appointment I was told by the tech that she would be doing the mammogram, show the films to the doctor and then she would come back in to do the ultrasound, except when she came back in she told me the doctor was going to come in to do the ultrasound instead. I can’t explain why but it was at that moment that I knew I had breast cancer. I don’t know why I felt so certain about it but in my heart I just knew I was right. After the doctor did the ultrasound he told me he wanted me to come back in to do a biopsy. My first thought was a needle aspiration, but that was not the case as a small incision was going to be made, 4 samples were to be cut out and a clip was going to be inserted for “any possible surgery.” Four days later my breast cancer was confirmed and even though I felt from the beginning that was what I was going to hear the words were still surreal sounding.
Once you’re diagnosed life becomes a whirlwind and since May 2nd I’ve had surgery, I am currently going through chemotherapy, I am scheduled for about 35 radiation treatments that will be given to me every day except weekends and when all is said and done I will have 5 years of drug therapy to hopefully prevent a future reoccurrence.
As I said, I’m an optimistic person by nature and will ALWAYS find the positive in things. I truly believe laughter is the best medicine, so I’ve been doing a lot of laughing and very little crying which didn’t even happen until the day before my first chemo treatment. I was driving alone in my car thinking of my dad who passed away from cancer some years back when the song “You are the Sunshine of My Life” came on the radio which was his song for “his girls”.) It was at that time that the magnitude of it all hit me. So I pulled the car over, gave into the moment and cried my eyes out.
After I stopped, I took the timing of my melt down as a sign that my dad was going to be with me when I had my first chemo treatment the next day, which I then realized would have been my parents anniversary. On that day any fears vanished when I found out that my chemo nurse’s name was Honey; which is what my dad’s side of the family calls my mom. Her actual name is Marilyn but evidently nicknames were popular in “her group” and Honey became her hers . Thank G-d because Bunny and Toots were her other friends in the group.
I consider myself the luckiest women in the world because of my family, and it is their existence that expands my heart every day. From the beginning I knew that I’d rather live without breasts then die with them. I knew I would do whatever it would take to kill my cancer. So I’m doing all that I can and I know I WILL LIVE to dance at my grandchildren’s wedding (not that I have any at this point, but why should that stop me!)
I will not let my breast cancer define me, but I will be defined by having it. I am and forever will be a survivor!
As for why I picked Making Strides and the location of West Hollywood … I wanted to do something about having breast cancer but I didn’t know which organization I wanted to be part of. What I loved about Making Strides is that this event is a Celebration of Survivorship and Hope. When I saw that there was a walk in West Hollywood, I knew that was where I wanted to walk because I feel that is West Hollywood is about.
All too many of the population had to survive before they were able to hope. I am an upbeat person that likes to have fun and enjoy life, what better place then to celebrate my survivorship then there!
As for how I raised funds, I have a Jewish mother and I’m her baby … need I say more? So between the mahjong ladies and the friends she has made over the years, she was relentless. I have family and friends who love me dearly. I used Facebook and posted on my own personal page, my college page, my summer camp page and probably to my children’s chagrin their pages. I sent out emails via MSABC and from my own personal emails to raise funds.
This is a sample of what I sent out: